After about a year of praying, searching, considering, and developing a set of informal criteria, I am now in the beginning stages of applying for further biblical education and training. As our ministry has expanded in the area of church planting, I can see that my minimal Bible education needs to take a leap forward so that my knowledge, understanding, and ability to minister can keep up with the growing demands for my attention and for the spiritual needs being addressed.
My main criteria (without much explanation) are as follows:
- Needs to be online so that I can remain in vital ministry.
- Needs to be in English. My Spanish isn’t good enough for this level of intense education.
- There are too many “fluff” online programs. It needs to be from a reputable source.
- With current and potential future realities in mind, it needs to be accredited.
- It needs to be reasonably affordable and a program I can reasonably be expected to complete while serving as a missionary/pastor full-time.
Until a few a days ago, I didn’t believe I would ever find a program that fits all of those requirements. However, a new program offered by Moody Theological Seminary meets every one of those criteria and they are uniquely the first and only seminary to offer an MDiv degree 100% online, with biblical language study, and accreditation from the Associations of Theological Schools (ATS).
It’s custom-designed to make this feasible for students in a situation like mine where dropping ministry/work is not practical or possible. There’s a lot more in the way of details and reasoning that has gone into the decision to pursue this direction, so if you want to know more, please ask. I’ll answer your questions as they come.
The total cost is still significant and at $380 per credit hour (very reasonable for accredited seminary programs and even more so considering I’ll be taking only one class at a time…one every 7 weeks for 4-6 years probably) and thus about $32,400 to complete all 90 hours. I am actively researching scholarships. Since our current ministry support level is minimal, we only have retirement savings to use toward the tuition at this point. That is not our preference but if we can minimize the total amount out-of-pocket (savings), we certainly will find it more palatable.
One scholarship that should be available to us is called the Timothy Scholarship. I’m in the early stages of seeking a church to offer to sponsor this scholarship. Our home church will be considering this in the near future. Under this scholarship, our church can send in 1/3 of the current tuition (as it comes due for each semester) and Moody will match that 1/3. This would leave me with 1/3 to pay. If the Lord provides the 1/3 through our church or through anyone who would like to send funds through our church toward this matching fund of 1/3, that should meet enough financial need to make this feasible. We really could use more than that, but we’ll see if there’s any response and anyone who’d like to help us with this.
If we don’t find interest in coming up with the 1/3 matching funds, I won’t go any further than the application process. We don’t have access to enough funds otherwise. Loans/debt are not an option. If God wants us to purchase something, He’ll provide the funds before we buy it. The Israelites didn’t swim halfway across the Red Sea, right? They stepped out in faith onto dry land. That’s my financial philosophy and practice in a nutshell.
I never thought I’d ever be taking seminary courses as I simply was never interested before. Seeing is believing. I see I really have a need for much more Bible education and so I believe I’ll be working on it! This program seems to be a perfect fit for what should help us remain effective in ministry as the Lord continues using us in a greater role with evangelism, discipleship, and church planting. That should also keep us ministering to MKs and their educational needs to as we’re both busy handling all of these things throughout each week.
If you’d like to check out the main points of this program, feel free to read about it here:
If you think the Lord would have you partner with us by underwriting part (or all!) of this Bible education and training, please let me know. We’re not quite far enough into the process for receiving any funds to help for this need, but in the coming couple of months, that will all be put into place and ready for action.
In any case, we’d sure appreciate your prayers as this is a very important decision and step toward the future. We’re excited at how the Lord has brought this program to light and that it really should expand and prolong our ministry efforts here in Mexico.
I’ve just begun the application process and it will probably take some time to complete all the steps, but with deadlines looming, I’m hoping to make significant strides this week before our planned vacation for next week.
Thanks for praying and for considering helping underwriting this. We probably will need about $3,000 to $4,000 a year minimally to make this possible.